That fear of Acheron be sent packing which troubles the life of man from its deepest depths, suffuses all with the blackness of death, and leaves no delight clean and pure. – Lucretius
It may be inevitable that, when a civilization dies, its inhabitants undergo a major transformation in character. No longer having formal social expectations as a guide for personal behavior, men and women take on the traits of the living dead; bodies capable of automatic, robotic movement, but without any focused, moral direction. Those whose personal identities had been attached to institutional systems, now find themselves uncertain as to both the purpose and propriety of their actions. Like so many refugees from war or prison camps, they are left to wander aimlessly, without reflection.
Such seems to be the state of modern Western societies, particularly America. Our culture has become dominated by reptilian-brained humanoids who worship death. It is not surprising that so many current motion pictures and television dramas repeat the ‘night of the living dead’ theme in which zombies plague the neighborhoods. Body tattoos, decorated T-shirts, cartoon shows, and computer games are dominated by dark-side expressions of anti-life sentiments. Psychopaths – both in and out of government – inflict pain and death upon the innocent. The ‘blackness of death’ has long been a useful metaphor for mankind’s response to death, whether of individuals or cultures. In his book, The End of the World: A History, Otto Friedrich explores this connection. The fourteenth century plague that killed tens of millions of Europeans was known as ‘the Black Death,’ just as ‘the Black Hand’ was the name later adopted by extortionists and political terrorists. Black is still a sign of mourning, with relatives wearing black armbands, and black wreaths sometimes found on the doors of grieving families.
SWAT teams – as well as police officers assigned to intimidate public demonstrators – show up in black uniforms, their faces – and thus their identities – concealed by black helmets and sunglasses. The Darth Vader character in Star Wars was likewise clothed entirely in black, with his face hidden from view. He operated from the ‘Death Star,’ a black satellite that was home base for the evil in the film. Life manifests itself in the vibrancy of colors: flowers attract us because they celebrate life. The blackened remains of a forest or building destroyed by fire do not inspire us. It would be pointless to publish colored photographs of cities destroyed by wartime bombings: black-and-white photos are sufficient to illustrate their anti-life character.
This post was published at Lew Rockwell on September 23, 2014.